March 8, 1937

LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The hon. member did not get any more information than I did at the time. I have received information from the Department of Indian Affairs. We have the statement of an hon. gentleman who sits in front of the hon. member for Winnipeg North (Mr. Heaps) which appeared in an official publication when that gentleman was a minister in the Bennett government that there was less unemployment, and more employment, in 1930 than in the years before. We have that evidence, and the hon. member knows it very well.

When hon. members opposite left office there were 1,258,421 on relief.

Topic:   THE BUDGET
Subtopic:   CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON THE ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENT OF THE MINISTER OF FINANCE
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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Not unemployed-on relief.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Yes, on relief.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

How many were unemployed?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

A much larger number.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Oh, no.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

Because this figure did not take into account those who worked part time, and the unemployed who were not on relief. The hon. member knows that very well.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

No. The point I make is that the hon. member should give comparable figures and should not confuse the number of unemployed with the number on relief. I understand the number of unemployed was about 500,000, while the number on relief was over a million.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

The figures given by the hon. member are most unfair, because they are those of heads of families on relief-an entirely different thing. Let me tell him that he was a very good Minister of Public Works, and I am pleased to pay that tribute, but I must say that when he was a member of the government he paid no attention to social legislation. He left that to his leader, who was the big boss and did not brook intervention by any of his ministers. Therefore

The Budget-Mr. Pouliot

members of the Liberal party knew more about these matters than did the ministers of the former government.

Mr. iSTEWART: May I ask the hon. member again to give the figure for 1935 which would correspond to 117,000 in 1930.

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I am telling the hon. member that it is impossible for me to give them because his boss, the former Prime Minister, always refused to give me information. I shall now instruct the member from Brockville; I have been trying to give a little information to his leader.

Now let us come to the municipalities. They have considered the question of unemployment from what angle? From the angle of finance. I am. in favour of investigating commissions, but managing commissions are sometimes dangerous. We have an employment commission. Let me tell the house that I do not believe much in that commission. It is a window-dressing commission, with the home improvement plan-and walking down Sparks street the other day I was much surprised to see a sign on which were the words "admission free" stuck in a bath room. That seemed strange, because few people appreciate such window dressing invitations when there are other windows showing fireplaces where the sign would be much more appropriate.

The question has been asked about the number of unemployed. On February 8 of this year I asked this question:

1. What is actually the total number: (a) of heads of families; (b) of their dependents; (e) of individual cases of unemployed, all receiving relief at the present time?

2. How many of the three above mentioned classes are employable?

3. What is the total number of unemployed: (a) heads of families, and (b) unmarried boys and girls over twenty, not receiving relief at the present time?

4. What is the number of: (a) employable, and (b) unemployable unemployed in each province at the present time, and what was the average of each of both those classes of unemployed during the calendar years 1935 and 1936?

To which the minister replied:

Mr. Rogers: All available information was

included in the report of the National Employment Commission with respect to the registration of recipients of direct relief which was tabled in the house on the 5th day of February. As other data is abstracted from the registration returns it w-ill be made available.

I thank the minister for the copy of the return, but I must say it contains no information about the previous occupations of the unemployed. Therefore it is of no use at all. I cannot see its usefulness as it does not 6how what the unemployed can do, or how they

can be employed. This is a very important point and one that should not be overlooked.

At page 762 of Hansard there is set out the payments to the members of this National Employment Commission. These are as follows:

Name Travelling expenses Living allowance

A. B. Purvis

A. N. McLean . $1,141 07 $1,843

Alfred Marois . 603 75

Tom Moore . 228 95 3,439

Mrs. M. Sutherland. . 2,151 93

W. A. Mackintosh. . . 771 98 1.425E. J. Young . 1,538 25 3,021

Mr. Young would be able to render much better service to the state on the tariff board, and he would be exceedingly well qualified for such a position. Mr. Tom Moore received only $228.95 for travelling expenses, no living allowance being paid. What a great sacrifice he made to serve the state. Apparently he served without salary. But he received $9,000 for doing nothing on the social insurance commission. He received nearly as much in salary as the four commissioners received in living allowances. They received a total of $9,728 while Mr. Moore received $9,000. I saw in the Ottawa citizen not long ago that he was no longer a member of the employment insurance commission, due to the ruling of the privy council, but was to be employed at a salary of $7,300 per year. He was to get $20 a day for 365 days. Apparently he is to work on Sundays. Our Lord created the universe in six days, but on the seventh He took a rest. Tom Moore is doing nothing for 365 days; therefore he does not need a weekly rest.

The creation of the employment commission was just as laudable an effort on the part of this government as were silly the increases made in the tariff by the previous government and its so-called social legislation which was knocked out recently by the privy council.

The speech of the Minister of Labour on the second reading of the employment commission bill on March 30 last year shows that he is fully qualified for his position. I would be quite willing to give him blanket authority to study this whole matter and report to the house. He is a reliable Minister of Labour and I am very sorry that in order to relieve unemployment all he has by way of assistance is a commission which is really more of an obstacle than a help.

Enough has been said already with regard to the abstract side of unemployment. I intend to refer to the individuals concerned. I have received a number of letters from unemployed people, which I should like to read if I had the time to do so. In his speech in support of his amendment, the

The Budget-Mr. Pouliot

leader of the Tory party, otherwise known as the hon. member for Calgary West (Mr. Bennett), made one suggestion. Was it constructive or was it not? Let us see. He said that the bureau of statistics was the place one would expect to go to for the purpose of getting information regarding the numbers of the unemployed. The last information gathered by the bureau of statistics in this connection was during the census of 1931. Therefore, the only information the bureau can supply in this regard would be that relating to 1931. The leader of the opposition did not even dare to quote that information when speaking on the unemployment and social insurance bill. If he does not know where to get the necessary information, it is not surprising that he never got it. After having been Prime Minister for five years he seems to know very little about this matter.

The proper source of this information is the municipalities. This government has authority to collect the necessary information from that source. All the government needs to do is to tell the provinces that they will get no more subsidies unless they provide the necessary information.

I should like to tell the house what in my humble opinion should be done. There should be a classification of the unemployed in each part of the country according to trades. We should have the number of unemployed in the building trades, unemployed factory workers, labourers, merchants, office help, professional workers, railway workers, technicians, iron and steel workers, longshoremen, miners, seamen, fishermen, domestics and sundry other occupations. It is very important to know the previous occupations of the unemployed! in order to know what can be done for them!.

I would suggest that this question of unemployment should be studied by a committee of this house. After having looked over the record I am surprised to find that during the last few years this question has not been considered by a committee of members of this house. I have before me a list of the different matters referred to the committee on industrial and international relations. In 1928 there was referred to it the question of insurance against unemployment and sickness, and the civil service councils, Bill No. 4; in 1929, grants of family allowances, and insurance against unemployment, sickness and invalidity; in 1930, Bill No. 39, respecting government contracts; in 1931, there was referred to it the resolution by the hon. member for Grey-Bruce (Miss Macphail) regarding promotion of peace by instituting professorships and 31111-toij

scholarships in Canadian universities. In 1932 it had no sittings; in 1933, no sittings; in 1934, no sittings. In 1935 there was referred to it the resolution on oriental seamen on Canadian ships, and the resolution for pensions for the blind. In 1936 there was referred to it a report of the Secretary of State for External Affairs, and. the matter of employment of Canadian citizens on subsidized Canadian ships. In 1937 there have been no sittings as yet.

I should like to give particulars of the special committees of this house which have been set up to study various matters. In 1929 committees were set up to study the Dominion Elections Act, 1920, and the Opium and Narcotic Drug Act. In 1930 committees were set up to study the Dominion Elections Act. 1920; pensions and returned soldiers' problems. The special committees set up in 1931 studied the Beauharnois power project, and Bill No. 4, the Copyright Act In 1932 special consideration was given to the Bankruptcy Act, Bill No. 41; the civil service and Civil Service Act; certain charges and allegations made by Hon. G. N. Gordon; radio broadcasting; unfair competition in trade and commerce;' and Bill No. 4, to amend the Patent Act. During the session of 1932-33 special committees considered Bill No. 78 concerning pensions, and Bill No. 2 to amend the Representation Act. In 1934, special consideration was given to the Civil Service Act; price spreads and mass buying; operation of the radio act, elections and franchise acts. In 1935, consideration was given to the British North America Act; Bill No. 98 concerning the grain board; and housing. In 1936, we had under consideration the election and franchise acts, 1934; pensions and returned soldiers' problems; the marketing of wheat and other grains; and the radio commission.

In 1937, there are committees considering the elections and franchise acts; criminal code (death penalty) bill; farm implements.

It is an omission on the part of all of us, every hon. member is blameworthy, because a reference on the unemployment problem can be submitted to a committee on the motion of any hon. member, seconded by another, and adopted. This session is nearly over, but I hope that next session a motion will be carried for a committee to study unemployment at large. I humbly proffer this suggestion. The membership jf this house comes from every part of the country and represents every walk of life, and it seems to me that we could give a hand and substantial help to the government by studying this whole matter ourselves, rather than by referring it to others.

The Budget-Mr. Pouliot

We could formulate our suggestions without reference to party politics, as an assembly of members desiring to consider and come to definite conclusions on this vital problem in order to assist the government of the day.

Here was a suggestion that was made on April 30 to assist the government. A member of this house has done part of the work which is to be assigned to the National Employment Commisison. He is still ready to do that work for nothing-the classification of the unemployed according to their trades-if the government is willing, provided that he can pick up a staff to assist him in his work. It will save the government of the country $125,000. The offer is still good.

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CON

Hugh Alexander Stewart

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. STEWART:

Will the hon. member

answer this question: Who is the hon. member who made that offer?

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LIB

Jean-François Pouliot

Liberal

Mr. POULIOT:

I cannot name him

because I fear to hurt his modesty.

We should also make an inventory of our natural resources, an investigation of packing, et cetera.

The trade policy of the government is excellent; and I am sure that if a committee of this house decided to study the whole matter from a non-partisan point of view, examining facts instead of theories, it would achieve very satisfactory results.

May I say in conclusion that as the trade policy of the government is very good there is no reason why its unemployment policy should not be of equal merit. In order to arrive at such a policy, however, we should get rid of any managing commission, and appoint an investigating committee from among ourselves to report back to the house in due course.

On motion of Mr. Rickard the debate was adj ourned.

On motion of Mr. Lapointe (Quebec East) the house adjourned at 10.56 p.m.

Tuesday, March 9, 1937

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March 8, 1937